Japanther Celebrates a New Album at Mercury Lounge

March 5th, 2010

Japanther – Mercury Lounge – March 4, 2010

Japanther - Mercury Lounge - March 4, 2010
Japanther is Brooklyn, a landmark of the days when anything past Bedford on the L was scary, when there were just a couple of legitimate venues—when it was still a little badass to live over the bridge. The signs of Japanther’s following continue to show up on construction sites and in the layers of stickers built up on traffic lights. The signs are such a fixture that they even made it into the 2006 Whitney Biennial. But the band is still humble about its place in NYC rock history.

Japanther has played every loft or basement, opening for every hyped band of the moment. And they always seem to be in the middle of recording another album. They have this insane DIY work ethic that’s help make them a success. So to see them at a record-release party for their eighth album, Rock and Roll Ice Cream, at Mercury Lounge was definitely a special occasion. Like their contemporaries Lightning Bolt, they make a rock show into an overwhelming experience. It’s not like you’re watching a band on a stage, instead it’s like you’re in the middle of their living room. They have to be seen live.

Watching Matt Reilly press play on a cassette tape of samples of a TV being flipped through the channels and Ian Vanek, sweaty and shirtless, pounding the drums—while they both sing through telephone receivers—just doesn’t translate into a recording. Last night they made Simpsons references, encouraged weapons in the workplace and slandered President Obama with such enthusiasm and punk glee that the crowd burst into a bodysurfing pit for each song. That’s what they’re in it for: the reaction from diehard fans and new ones who heard whispers at parties about what they were in for. It’s just another day at the office for the guys in Japanther, who never lost sight of why they love playing music in the first place. It’s never become routine because they continue to put on the best stripped-down punk show they can every time. —Jason Dean

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane |